For my birthday this year, I opted to check out Rebel Wilson’s new romantic-comedy spoof Isn’t It Romantic, and I’m happy to report it was a good choice.
A rom-com spoof, you ask? Does that mean it’s for people who love rom-coms, or people who love to make fun of them? I say the answer is both. This movie is like looking at old yearbook photos with your friends—there’s definitely some mocking involved, but it’s done with love. Isn’t It Romantic knows the tropes of its genre and takes pleasure in pointing out just how little they actually fit with the real world, but it also embraces their use with equal gusto.
The story follows Natalie (Rebel Wilson), an architect whose cynicism and lack of confidence have created a rather closed-off existence in which she is often taken for granted by her coworkers and generally overlooked by everyone else—even her dog. Despite her ranting to her assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) against romance in general, and the specific failings of romantic comedies, Natalie considers taking Whitney’s advice to be more open when a man approaches her on the subway. Except he then tries to mug her, which leads to Natalie getting a pretty significant blow to the head.
Natalie then wakes up (in full hair and make-up) in a hospital room that more closely resembles a hotel suite, with a doctor who could have walked right off the Grey’s Anatomy set attending her—all details she immediately identifies as strange. After one Pretty Woman-inspired costume change, a limo ride home with the handsome Blake (Liam Hemsworth), and several other significant clues, Natalie realizes she has become trapped inside a romantic comedy—one that’s rated PG-13 if the random street noise covering her swearing is any indication.
Determining that the only way to escape this alternate dimension is to make someone fall in love with her, Natalie sets her sights on Blake, given that he already finds her so “beguiling” (the repeated use of this word becomes its own joke). However, even as Blake seems to fall for her, Natalie’s coworker and best friend, Josh (Adam Devine), is developing his own relationship with model/yoga ambassador Isabella (Priyanka Chopra), which Natalie finds more and more unsettling. If you know rom-coms, you know where this is going, but let me assure you that it isn’t exactly what you think—after all, one of the biggest arguments against rom-coms is that they set up a man as the key to a woman’s happiness.
- Rebel Wilson’s standard brand of dry, self-deprecating, often over-the-top humor.
- Comedy must run in the Hemsworth family because, much like Chris Hemsworth in Ghostbusters (2016), Liam Hemsworth plays the handsome dope really well.
- Lots of rom-com references
- Fun attention to detail—even the signage in the background is purposefully cutesy.
- Musical numbers are a fun addition to most movies, but for Pitch Perfect fans, it’s especially great when they involve Rebel Wilson & Adam Devine.
- The pacing felt a little off-balance. The set-up got plenty of time, but the last half of the movie went by quickly. It didn’t necessarily feel rushed, but I don’t think it would have hurt the movie to beef it up just a little.
All in all, Isn’t It Romantic might not blow your mind, but it will make you laugh, even if you’re not a rom-com fan.